Virtual world company Worlds.com filed suit against City Of Heroes
publisher NCsoft on Christmas Eve, claiming infringement on its MMO technology patent.
The main patent referenced in the suit is a "System and Method for Enabling Users to Interact in a Virtual Space."
According to the lawsuit, obtained by
the Virtual Worlds News website, Worlds.com alleges that NCsoft's online games, including Dungeon Runners
, City of Heroes/Villains
and Lineage II
, among others, are in violation.
Earlier this month, Worlds.com, which launched in 1994, referenced its holding of patents for two technologies common in virtual worlds and MMOs: scalable chat and user interaction in a virtual space.
As MMO site Massively reported at the time
, this theoretically gives Worlds.com enforcement power over just about any online game that lets users talk and interact in a game world -- and the ability to collect financial damages.
Massively's report noted that Worlds.com's interaction patent was filed in 2000
-- after the launch of other games such as Habitat
or Ultima Online
, which appear to include some reasonably similar features.
The complaint, filed in NCsoft's home ground of the Eastern District of Texas, seeks a permanent injunction against NCSoft operating games covered under the patent, plus damages for the alleged infringement, "in no event less than a reasonable royalty", as well as lawyers' fees.
Worlds.com's second patent, unreferenced in this particular legal claim, is 'Scalable virtual world chat client-server system', which was filed in 1996
and granted in 2001.